My garage clear-out yielded these two group photos of my grandmother Fannie B. Woodruff and her five sisters, Jennie, Flora, Mildred, Cecelia, and Bertha—the children of William Earl Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus. The photos were damaged and faded, but some “Photoshopping” has helped to revive them a bit. Oldest sister Jennie died in October 1955 so the image was obviously taken sometime prior to that. Sister Flora Ulrich lived out in California, so maybe this photo was taken to commemorate her visit to New Jersey or to mark some other special/solemn occasion, perhaps even the death of one of their spouses. My grandfather died in May 1951 and Jennie’s in December 1953. The location I am not sure of; but I think it may have been my grandmother’s home in Scotch Plains, NJ. I think it’s somewhat sweet that in the top photo they are all looking in different directions as if trying to catch their best sides. In the photos I have of them in their much younger years, all heads were always pointed in the same direction.
Here is an image of a few unknowns. I love the photographer! I’m quite certain that’s C. Clarence Coleman on the right. He was born in 1877 and he looks to be about 20 here, maybe younger. I’m not very good with ages. The young fellow to his left looks very familiar but I can’t place him. For some reason this photo was mixed in with some Brodhead family photos which initially struck me as odd given young Coleman is in the photo, but my Grandmother Brodhead was a Woodruff and her older sister Jennie ended up as Clarence’s bride in 1904, so perhaps those connections were all in the process of being established or in place when this photo was taken. Everything would be clearer if I knew who these other folks were. If anyone can identify them, please let me know. The woman on the left looks a bit like Clarence—perhaps, a sister?
Have a great day, All!
PS: The fence is the exact same type my dad built around our swimming pool in the early 1970s. I wonder if the inspiration came from this very spot, provided the fence here lasted another 30-40 years!
Here are two more photos that belonged to the Coleman family. They are unlabelled, and I have no idea who these folks are. Perhaps they are Coleman or Woodruff family members. If anyone reading this has any thoughts, please leave a comment. Thanks!
Here’s and interesting photo that was in the Colemans‘ possession. It is unlabelled. As far as a date goes, I am thinking 1890s/early 1900s? Thoughts, anyone? It’s highly possible these are Coleman / Angus / Woodruff family members, but so far I can’t make any best guesses. I’m assuming the photo was taken somewhere in Elizabeth, New Jersey, given that’s where they were all based at the time, with a few exceptions. If anyone recognizes this lady and little girl, please let me know. Thank you!
As promised in my July 25 post, I am adding some more Coleman family photos to this blog. Jennie Belle Woodruff Coleman was the daughter of William Earl Woodruff & Wealthy Ann Angus. Jennie was the oldest of six children, all daughters. I have posted photos of the sisters previously. For those images, click here, and here.
This is the northeast corner of Clarence and Jennie (Woodruff) Coleman‘s living room in the house they built at 17 Wilder Street in Elizabeth, NJ, in 1912, I believe. The living room was on the left when you walked through the front door. The photograph was taken professionally, by ‘John L. Soltis’ of Elizabeth, and is undated. The house was torn down in the 1970s and replaced with an apartment building.
How did we end up with this photo, you may be asking? After the Coleman’s daughter Jennie (only child; never married) died in the 1990s, we were contacted by a cousin of hers who lived in a NJ seaside town. At the time, my mom was in Florida (dad had passed away five years earlier), and I was living in London. The cousin told us that there were “a lot of family papers and other items that you should have, but it’s a lot and we can’t possibly ship it.” I had some vacation time and mom was retired so we met in Newark and drove down to get all of this stuff. When we arrived we were shown a couple of regular-size boxes, nothing that could not have been shipped… Needless to say we were ever so slightly annoyed, but on the other hand, got to converse with this cousin of Jennie’s and her spouse, both in their 70s by then, on family & family history matters.
These boxes, containing some photos, newspaper clippings, year books and other memorabilia, were all that was left of the Coleman estate, at least as far as family members were concerned. The rest of the estate, which was quite substantial in both money and antiques, was all taken by the executor who moved out of state. A lawsuit was filed (all public record), and eventually this individual was removed from the executorship of the estate by court order. But, by the time that happened, there was nothing… he’d supposedly spent it all—all the fruits of Clarence Coleman’s labor.
I remember sitting on that beautiful, antique sofa many times. It was unlike anything we’d seen elsewhere as kids in the 1960s, and the picture on the wall above it always captivated me. The books and things in the corner were off-limits to us little kids, of course. I have vague memories of the rest of the room. I believe there was a fireplace on the west side of the room, as well as doors leading out to the covered porch.
I will probably publish another one or two posts containing the rest of the materials we have from this family. There are no descendants, so I think it’s important that their lives be remembered in this blog, especially since (I think) that is unlikely to happen anywhere else, now or in the future.
Unfortunately, the Woodruff sisters (the six children of William Earl Woodruff & Wealthy Ann Angus) did not pose together later in life as they did in their younger years (see previous post). But I do have a photo of four of them together from the 1950s. As time goes by, I will try to piece together more information about them and perhaps do a few more individual posts. (Note: A post about Bertha already appeared on this blog some time ago.) All the ladies made it into their eighties: Wealthy Mildred Brown – 86, Jennie Belle Coleman – 82, Cecelia Van Horn 87+ (still looking for an exact DOD), Fannie Brodhead – 84, Bertha Woodruff – 85, Flora May Baker Ulrich (married twice) – 85.
When I first glanced at the list of my grandparents’ wedding gifts (Frank M. Brodhead & Fannie B. Woodruff) a number of years back, most of the names did not ring any bells. Now, six years into delving deeper into my family history, many of these names are familiar to me, and I even almost feel as if I know some of them, as odd as that may sound. Naturally, the list both offers clues and raises questions, but c’est la guerre when you’re peeling the six-ton onion that is your family tree.
The wedding took place in Hillside (adjacent to Elizabeth), NJ, at the Woodruff family home on Conant Street on 6 June 1908. For the 1900 census, the family was living at “258 Conant Street”, where today there is nothing but an empty field. However, I’d be willing to wager that 100+ years ago, the old Francis Woodruff home (built by Fannie’s grandfather Francis in 1845 and inherited by eldest son William–Fannie’s father—in 1883) was actually 258 Conant Street because it was a working farm until the land surrounding the home was sold for housing developments. So while I could be mistaken, I feel confident the Woodruff family lived in this home on Conant Street, which is still standing. I remember my dad taking us past this house as kids and telling us that that was where his mom (Fannie) and her sisters were born.
By the way, a brief mention of the Francis Woodruff home can be found in the six-page PDF Eight Colonial Homes, an undated publication put out by the staff of the Hillside National Bank: A third Woodruff house, while appearing to be the same vintage as the others, was erected about 1845. […] …it is frequently the subject of artists’ paint brushes because of its picturesque setting. It was built by Francis Woodruff, a descendant of Enos Woodruff. A letter from Mathias Woodruff in 1843 to his brother, another Enos Woodruff, comments that he is planning to return from Louisiana to help his cousin, Ezra Woodruff, erect a house for Frank. The letter jokingly said in part: “Frank will want him to put up a house next summer. I have advised him to find out from the neighbors what kind of house he wants, sort of architecture, on which side to put the kitchen, dog house, pig pens. If all parties are satisfied, it will save a great deal of talk.” Oddly enough it was constructed sideways to the road, but when the Westminster section was developed by Edward Grassman in the 1930’s, Revere Drive was placed in front of it, so today it faces a street. [On a sad side note, brother Matthias died of yellow fever in St. Francisville, LA, in 1844, and never made it home to help Frank build his house.]
My grandmother was 17 at the time of the 1900 census and worked as a stenographer. Before she was married eight years later, she was working as a secretary for Mr. Edward D. Duffield, then president of Prudential Insurance Co.
Unfortunately, we have no photos from the big wedding day, which is disappointing. I feel very wistful when viewing others’ late 19th- and early 20th-century wedding photos—I sure wish we had some.
Notably absent from the wedding would have been Ophelia Easton Brodhead, grandmother of the groom and wife of Andrew Jackson Brodhead. She died in 1904, just shy of her 82nd birthday, and her husband Andrew’s gift is noted as being given in her memory. Also absent was Calvin Brodhead, Ophelia and Andrew’s son, who passed away in 1907, but two of his children—Alex and Emily—were in attendance. The bride’s grandparents had all passed away by then, one before she was born (James W. Angus) and two when she was just one year’s old (Francis Woodruff & Mary Jane Trowbridge). She would only have had memories of her grandmother Wealthy Ann Jaques Angus who died when Fannie was not quite ten. (Ironically, Fannie is the only grandparent I have any recollection of; all my other grandparents passed away before I was born.)
The gift list contains 133 items, so I won’t scan in and post all the pages, but I will list some of the gift-givers who stand out to me as well as some I would like to figure out. For example, Aunt Fannie Bishop. Who was she?—I wondered. She must have been someone important since my grandmother was named after her! Upon checking census records, I did indeed discover a Fannie Bishop (b. Feb 1852) living with her husband and children (Samuel, William, and Charles) in that very same neighborhood, so perhaps “Aunt Fannie” was a childhood friend of my grandmother’s mother. In short, there are names to be explored here, and as time goes by, it may be possible to figure out who more of these folks are. The Earls are no doubt all cousins, etc., via William Woodruff’s grandmother Mary Ogden Earl (married John Woodruff in 1817), and I have done nothing yet to research that line, so I am sure once I do get around to it, some of these names will start to pop up. Likewise with the Cranes, a very old Elizabeth, NJ, family.
The parents of the bride and groom were: Andrew Douglas (A. D.) Brodhead and Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead, and William Earl Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff. The extended Woodruff and Angus families were very large, the former being among the original settlers of what became Union County. Andrew Brodhead, who hailed from Mauch Chunk, PA, and whose immediate and extended family was also very large, met and married Margaret Martin (a descendant of David Wait & Irene Bell) of Perth Amboy, NJ, and, after living for many years in that town, they and their children transitioned to Elizabeth.
Perhaps, you will find the name(s) of some of your ancestors on this list, and if you do, please feel free to give a ‘shout-out’ in the comment box. It’s fascinating to see so much family coming together for a big event, something that probably happened much more often back then given how enormous families were. Births, weddings, and funerals must have been quite common occasions.
I’m including the wedding announcement, which I posted once previously on the blog, but I think it adds to this post so I am publishing it again. As for the necklace mentioned, I suspect it was sold to a new owner during the Great Depression; I never heard my Dad mention it or its whereabouts.
Well, here is the list! (As always, comments, corrections, additions, etc., are always welcome.)
- Mr & Mrs Blakslee [sister and brother-in-law of father of the groom]—1 dozen silver knives
- Mr. & Mrs. Alex Brodhead [son and daughter-in-law of the late Calvin Brodhead & Laura Leisenring; Calvin was father-of-the-groom’s older brother]—Berry set and silver spoon
- Mrs. E. B. Earl—Silver tongs
- Lizzie Earl—Sherbet glasses
- Grace Earl—Picture
- The Misses Crane—Doily
- Miss Emily Easton Brodhead [daughter of the late Calvin Brodhead & Laura Leisenring; Calvin was father-of-the-groom’s older brother]—1/2 dozen orange spoons
- Annie Earl—Cherry centerpiece
- Florence Earl—Butter spreader
- Mr. and Mrs. R. O. Van Horn [sister and brother-in-law of bride]—Old-fashioned chair
- Mildred W. Woodruff [sister of bride]—Green (?)
- Andrew J. Brodhead [ brother of the groom]—1/2 dozen sherbet glasses ivy leaf
- Mr. Richard Brodhead [brother of father of the groom] & family—cut-glass bowl
- Mr. & Mrs. A. D. Brodhead [father and mother of groom]—Bread tray, mustard (?), and salt dish & cash
- Aunt Vean & Elizabeth Booth [mother-of-the-bride’s younger sister Lavinia P. Angus Marthaler & her cousin]—Table center
- Dr. G. Carlton Brown [future husband of Mildred W. Woodruff, sister of the bride]—Tabourette
- Cal & Gertrude Brodhead [son and daughter-in-law of Garret Brodhead (father of groom’s brother) & Annie Kocher]—Gas Lamp
- James E. Brodhead [brother of father of the groom] & family—$60
- Mr. Charles C. Martin [brother of mother of the groom]—Cut-glass water pitcher
- Mr. and Mrs. John Davidson [Likely a cousin of Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead, mother of the groom; the two shared a common great grandfather, John Oliver Wait]—cut-glass vase
- Mr. R. P. Brodhead [brother of father of the groom]—1/2 dozen tablespoons
- Mr. & Mrs. James A. Knowles [cousin of bride; son of Mary Martha Winans Angus and Austin F. Knowles]—picture
- Dan Brodhead [probably Daniel Dingman Brodhead, cousin of father of groom; son of Daniel Dingman Brodhead & Mary Ann Brodrick]—1/2 dozen teaspoons
- Mr. & Mrs. Franklin Burk [sister and brother-in-law of father of the groom]—Candlesticks
- Aunt Phebe Marsh & cousin Anna—1/2 dozen towels
- Grandfather Brodhead in memory of Grandmother Brodhead [Andrew Jackson Brodhead in memory of Ophelia Easton Brodhead]—1 dozen silver forks
- Cousin Sallie Whitehead [likely the daughter of Smith Winans Whitehead who married Johanna Thompson Woodruff, aunt of the father of the bride]—China salad bowl
- Mrs. Frederick Moon [sister of father of the groom]—Silver card basket
- Cousin Ida Smith—picture (fireplace)
- Mr. & Mrs. Richard S. Earl—1/2 dozen glass tumblers
- Jennie Coleman [sister of the bride]—2 pictures
- Mr. E. B. Earl—Cream & sugar (silver)
- Mr. & Mrs. W. A. C. Earl—1/2 dozen spoons
- Julia Crane —Salad bowl
- Alice Crane—Glass vase
- Fanny Crane—Cut-glass berry bowl
- Mr. & Mrs. Walter H. Knowles [cousin of bride; son of Mary Martha Winans Angus and Austin F. Knowles]—Butter knife
- Mr. & Mrs. Job W. Angus [mother-of-the-bride’s brother and sister-in-law Jeannette Tillou]—Cut-glass bowl
- Mr. & Mrs. Morris Budd [parents of wife of Ogden Bonnell Woodruff, cousin of bride’s father]—cut-glass (?)
- Aunt Fannie Bishop—China centerpiece
- Aunt Edith & Uncle Walter [Walter Prince Angus and his wife Edith Marshall; Walter was the youngest brother of the bride’s mother]—Cucumber server
- Celia Belle and Nell—Salt & pepper
- Aunt Celia & Uncle Tom [Celia Angus and Tom Russum–sister and brother-in-law of mother of the bride]—Cream & Sugar silver (exchanged for teapot)
- Anna and Mabel Dickinson [Daughters of the sister of the father of the bride; children of Emma & John Dickinson]—Silver pie server
- The Misses L. P. and M. E. Woodruff [Likely father-of-the-bride Wm Woodruff’s elderly, never-married aunts: Lucetta P. and Mary Elizabeth—Sugar tongs
- Ogden B. Woodruff & Edward E. Woodruff [father-of-the-bride’s cousins, sons of Ogden and Phebe Woodruff]—6 silver forks
- Mr. & Mrs. Ogden Woodruff [father-of-the-bride’s Uncle Ogden and Aunt Phebe]—2 soup spoons
- Lucetta C. Woodruff, Carrie E. Woodruff & Mary E. Woodruff—Silver knives
- Mr. & Mrs. Garret Brodhead [brother and sister-in-law of father of the groom]—Centerpiece and doilies
- Mr. & Mrs. Isaac J. Ayers & Family [brother-in-law and sister of father of the bride]—Art glass celery dish
- Mr. & Mrs. George Maxwell Earl—Picture
- Mr. & Mrs. John Woodruff [father-of-the-bride’s cousin, son of Ogden and Phebe Woodruff, and his wife Carrie Conover]—Sugar shaker
- Aunt Annie Crane—Silver cream ladle
- Mr. & Mrs. Scott O. Woodruff—Picture
- Watts Knowles [cousin of bride; son of Mary Martha Winans Angus and Austin F. Knowles]—Silver sugar spoon
- Mr. & Mrs. A. F. Knowles [Aunt of the bride–Mary Martha Winans Angus—and Austin F. Knowles]—Silver butter spoon
- Gertrude Knowles [cousin of bride; daughter of Mary Martha Winans Angus and Austin F. Knowles]—Hand-worked towels
- Lewis Brodhead [brother of the groom]—Knives – 2 dozen – 2 sizes; Carvers – 2 sets – 2 sizes; Pie knife, 1/2 dozen tablespoons, 1 dozen teaspoons
I stumbled on an obituary for Charles Clarence Coleman and noticed that later this month will mark the 60th anniversary of his passing. Charles, who went by his middle name of Clarence, was married to Jennie Belle Woodruff—the eldest daughter of William E. Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff. Both Clarence and Jennie passed away in the 1950s.
Growing up, I never knew much about my dad’s ‘Uncle Clarence’ other than that he had been a very successful banker and liked antiques, and that he and Jennie were married for ten years before they had any children. Just one child was born, a daughter. She spent holidays with us at our NJ farmhouse in the ’60s and ’70s.
The Coleman house in Elizabeth, which Clarence had built, was quite a grand place with a spiral staircase going up to the third floor, large grounds (by city standards) and a goldfish pond and rose garden out back. I remember the rooms being full of beautiful antiques. Clarence and Jennie’s daughter, who never married, continued living in the house well into the ’70s with one of Jennie’s sisters (Bertha) and a housekeeper Mrs. Morse. Some time after Bertha’s death, a new housekeeper appeared who encouraged Jennie and Clarence’s daughter to downsize. Sadly, the house was sold to make way for a run-of-the-mill apartment block. Indeed, it was a sad day when we drove past the bulldozed property on our way to the ‘new’ home–a fairly boring one-level brick house crammed between two others like it–not too far away. My dad was particularly upset by the decision as he had spent considerable time over his teenaged years at the Wilder Street house, helping Clarence and Jennie with household projects, and he was sure neither Clarence nor Jennie would ever have envisioned the grand old house being torn down. But, c’est la guerre.
For no real reason, apart from the fact that I’d never heard my dad’s cousin mention having any aunts or uncles on her father’s side, I’d always assumed that Clarence was an only child. Imagine my surprise to discover after a bit of research that just the opposite was true–he was one of nine! Perhaps, that explains why he wasn’t in a rush to have children himself.
Clarence’s father was a silver plate craftsman named Charles M. Coleman, who emigrated to the US at age one from England with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William R. C. Coleman. Charles M. Coleman married New Jersey-born Emily Chapman in about 1872. If my research is correct, below is a rudimentary tree for the family. Anyone able to flesh out more details, please feel free to get in touch.
Note: Clarence, Jennie and daughter are buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Union Co., NJ. Visit Find a Grave to see their markers.
1-Charles M. Coleman b. Cir 1845, England d. Aft 1910 +Emily C. Chapman b. Cir 1850, New Jersey, USA d. Aft 1910
|—-2-William Sidney Coleman b. 14 Nov 1875, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ d. Aft 1940 + Edna G.
|—-2-Charles Clarence Coleman b. 25 Nov 1877, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ, d. 28
| Dec 1953, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ
| +Jennie Belle Woodruff b. 24 Nov 1873, d. 20 Oct 1955, 17 Wilder St.,
| Elizabeth, Union Co., NJ, bur. Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union Co., NJ
|—-2-Eleanor Coleman b. Cir 1879, New Jersey; d. aft 1910
|—-2-Grace Coleman b. Cir 1880, New Jersey, United States; d. bef. 1910
|—-2-Frances D. Coleman b. 1884, New Jersey, United States; d. aft 1910
|—-2-Mary E. Coleman b. Cir 1886, New Jersey; d. aft 1910
|—-2-John Coleman b. 15 Nov 1890, Middlesex Co., NJ; d. bef. 1910
|—-2-Oprah B. Coleman b. Cir 1890, New Jersey; d. aft 1910
|—-2-Andrew Altman Coleman b. Cir 1893, New Jersey; d. betw 28 Dec 1953 and 16 Nov 1958
| +Olive Roberts b. 1898; d. 16 Nov 1958, Elizabeth, Union Co, NJ